retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times carried an interesting interview with Guy Kawasaki, a co-founder of Alltop, a news aggregation site, and managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, in which he talked about his leadership style and lessons learned. Some excerpts:

• “You learn to put in a cushion between you and the front line. You should hire people who are better at doing things than you are. So, in my case, I was not the warm-and-fuzzy manager, so I tried to hire people who reported to me who were warm-and-fuzzy types to provide a buffer. If you can’t do it, you should find somebody who can.”

• “My boss at Apple was a guy named Mike Murray, who was the director of marketing of the Macintosh division. He gave me so much rope that I could hang myself and sometimes I did. After a while, your neck gets stronger and you also learn not to hang yourself.

“A few levels above me, I learned from Steve Jobs that people can change the world. Maybe we didn’t get 95 percent market share, but we did make the world a better place. I learned from Steve that some things need to be believed to be seen. These are powerful lessons — very different from saying we just want to eke out an existence and keep our heads down.”

• “The most important thing is that you hire people who complement you and are better than you in specific areas. Good people hire people better than themselves. So A players hire A+ players. But others hire below their skills to make themselves look good. So B players hire C players. C players hire D players, etc.”

• “The second ideal goal would be to make yourself dispensable — what greater accomplishment is there than the organization running well without you? It means you picked great people, prepared them and inspired them. And if executives did this, the world would be a better place ... Insecure people would rather see the company fail without them than succeed. It’s because their ego is so large that the thought of a company succeeding without them is incomprehensible. They would rather see it fail.”

• “They should teach students how to communicate in five-sentence e-mails and with 10-slide PowerPoint presentations. If they just taught every student that, American business would be much better off ... What you learn in school is the opposite of what happens in the real world. In school, you’re always worried about minimums. You have to reach 20 pages or you have to have so many slides or whatever. Then you get out in the real world and you think, “I have to have a minimum of 20 pages and 50 slides.”
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